Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An Outline is Born

Over the past few weeks, I've been outlining my new idea and shaping it into a story.

I started by identifying the different layers and subplots and then making an outline of each one on my computer. When I was happy with the outlines, I printed them out, cut them into pieces, and arranged each event in chronological order.


Then, when I had them arranged how I wanted them, I made a color-coded chart. I use a different color for each plotline so I can trace each plot and make sure I have a good mix of the different storylines. I just finished this last night and I'm glad to have it done - it was a lot of work getting to this point! This is just a starting point and it will evolve from here, but at least I've got a basic game plan.



Whew! So that's how I develop my outline. How about you? Are you a plotter or a pantser? If you're a plotter, does your outline or your method look anything like mine? And what have you been working on this past week?

32 comments:

Old Kitty said...

Lovely Susan Fields! I am in AWE and still scraping my jaw off the floor at your awesome bits of paper and coloured writing!! How big is this poster-chart?!?! Yay for you!!

Take care
x

Mel Chesley said...

Holy cow, girl! That is some impressive outlining you have there. I don' t think mine will ever look that spiffy. I may have to come to you for tips!

stu said...

My approach is a little complicated, and generally involves trying to do it with no plan at least twice, giving up in frustration for six months, writing it all out on one bit of paper and going from there.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Whoa! My story would be a wreck the moment I cut it into little pieces. I just do a simple outline, keep adding and detailing for months, until I realize I'm one step shy of simply writing the story. Then I begin!

Laura Marcella said...

It looks great, Susan! I'm definitely a plotter, too. My methods tend to change with each story though. I like to try different things. I recently read The Plot Whisperer and got the workbook, too, and it helped me so much in plotting my novel for NaNo. I also like making index card scenes. It helps that I can move scenes around and kind of have a concrete vision of my novel.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I remember this from Donald Maass's workbook. I've just finished outlining my novel, but I did it on Scrivener this time. That was so much easier than last time. Last time I had the window open and a sudden breeze send parts of my outline flying. :P

Bossy Betty said...

So cool to see how you work! You inspire me! Congrats on all the hard work!

Carolyn V said...

Wow! That's fantastic! I'm totally a plotter and loved your technique. Thanks for sharing! ;)

Brian said...

I am very impressed!

Carol Riggs said...

Look at you! So organized. I've done the little strips of paper too. Haven't done the color-coded part, but I can see how that would be uber-helpful! Thanks for sharing your method; fascinating. :)

DL Hammons said...

YOWZA!!! That's what I call an outline! I do 95% of my outlining in an Excel spreadsheet. :)

Rebecca Kiel said...

Love it! I've done my version of those. I'm so visual it helps me to really get a feel for things when I can see how it all goes together. Better in little scraps than a wall size sheet of plotter paper taped to the wall that falls down in the middle of the night and scares the beejeezus out of everyone.

DEZMOND said...

oh, so exciting, Suzie!

Denise Covey said...

Hi Susan. Long time since I visited you and now I arrive and see such an interesting post. I'm a reformed pantser who now plots, but not quite as detailed as you do. I rely a lot on my creativity which comes to me as I write. I run into too many brick walls when I try to get too into the plot on paper. That said, I tried writing the ending of my latest NaNo novel before the beginning. I knew where I wanted to end up, and lo and behold, this worked for me. Of course I'll tweak the ending, but it's given me a solid base to work towards...All the best!!!!!!

Velva said...

Susan, that is a seriously impressive outline-that rocks.. You are going to have that story together sooner than later.

Lots of luck to you.

Velva

Robyn Campbell said...

Danged if you don't rock the house woman! I love this. I am a, as very little outlining as I can do, kinda gal. But I think with my next one I'm going to try to do some outlining. YOU have inspired moi. :-)

(Magic dust is on the way) *wink*

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wow! I've known you forever and I had no idea this was how you began a new novel.

I'm a cross between a plotter and a pantser. I write down all my scene ideas on note cards, words I like from the period, and scenery. Then sort all of these note cards into groups. Then I put them on poster boards. I start writing. I have other index cards that I list physical features of the main characters. Not sure if this is an effective way....but it's what I'm doing on my current project.

mshatch said...

wow, nothing so elaborate here! I just try to write a synopsis first and then fill in the details, and divide into chapters.

I can imagine how helpful this method must be though. It's very visual :)

Jill Kemerer said...

Awesome!! Love the colored aspect--easy to see the subplots! Smart!

I plot. I use OneNote for everything including a detailed scene list. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Always good to meet another mystery writer! You're much more organized than I am.

I've been a pantser, and I'm trying to convert myself to a plotter. I currently am working from detailed character sheets and a plot timeline. And hoping that the result will have much less rewriting involved. We'll see.

Lynda R Young said...

Outlining is so much fun. I love the detail you've put into it.

Medeia Sharif said...

I outline on Excel, but I'd like to do color coding. It's when I draft that I might add subplots and minor characters. I'd like to be more prepared beforehand.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Wow!! Those are major deets!

I'm a plotter too, but I totally bow down to your outlining. Mine is a mess. LOL

Stephen Tremp said...

I plot an outline but end up making adjustments and tweaking, deleting and adding as I go along. So I guess I'm a hybrid.

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Totally impressed with you, Susan! This is awesome. I'm a pantser, but I think I'm going to switch over and TRY to be more organized because this last book I wrote has just been a miserable, wandering experience. lol!

Talli Roland said...

My goodness, that is some outline! Wow! Mine's very basic - generally, I just know the turning points and have a sense of character development.

Brinda said...

I am very impressed with your method. It looks like you are well on your way!

The Happy Whisk said...

Very cool. I have done the first part but with index cards. But never the second with all the colors.

What fun!

Rose Munevar said...

Wow! That looks amazing :) I'm a pantser, but I don't know if that really works for me. I do an outline of sorts in my mind and have considered writing it out. I'll be looking forward to hearing about your progress!

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Trisha said...

Just...wow! :) I'm a pantser, mostly, but I do do a bit of plotting nowadays. But if I did THIS much, I'd be bored with the story before I even started writing it. At least, that's been my experience.

Deniz Bevan said...

That looks like so much fun! Love the colour coding.